Pope nets twice in Worthing’s friendly win

Ben Pope
Ben Pope

BEN POPE was on target twice as Worthing Football Club continued their pre-season preparations with a 7-1 friendly victory against Woking’s Academy this afternoon.

Rebels’ promising young striker was on trial with Premier League Bournemouth last week, which meant he missed the 70-minute games with Horsham and Burgess Hill last Saturday and Tuesday’s friendly with Lewes.

Worthing joint manager Jon Meeney was delighted to have Pope back on board for today’s friendly with Woking. Pope scored once in each half, while Jaz Rance and two trialists from Ebbsfleet, who netted twice each, were also on target.

Meeney said: “It was great to have Ben back. We’re awaiting to hear and so is Ben from Bournemouth.

“I’ve been working with Ben here for 18 months now and I’d piggy back him there if he was to get a deal as he’s a great lad and has got real potential.

“We all know Ben, though. If nothing is to come of it, he’ll just knuckle down and keep doing what he’s doing. He’s come back today and got on the scoresheet and contributed and has got a good 90 minutes.

“We just want him to go out and play as he’s a fantastic player in the making.”

On the squad and the performances of the trialists, Meeney said: “We are cutting down the squad but it’s important that sometimes you leave one or two spaces open because you never know what happens.

“Players start pre-season somewhere and don’t quite fit in but they maybe fit into your mould. Gary (Elphick) and I have got contacts in football and it’s important that we do network.

“We always look within first but if we feel there’s one or two players out there that can come in and really aid our idenitity and take us forward in our journey, then we’ve got to do it because we want to be competitive and effective.

“We had a couple of players out there today who I thought did themselves no harm at all.”

On the match, Meeney said: “We’re always pleased to get a game of football and pleased to get any work-out. It doesn’t matter who you play - a senior Football League club, a Conference club, a Conference South Club or even an Academy or under-21 side - it all has certain scenarios in the game which we’ve got to look to manage and control.

“Any work out, you can gain something from it. Today, tactically and technically, we were looking at the lads to control the game.

“I set them a little challenge at half-time to finish the game with a purpose and we turned the ball over three times and scored three times, so that was effective.

“It was a very good work-out and credit to Woking as well. They had a team of young players, who came and expressed themselves and played without fear and I think they’re 90 minutes better for it as well.”

Striker Tony Nwachukwu is still to make his Worthing debut owing to a stomach strain and Meeney said: “We’re taking Tony training session upon training session, week on week.

“All he wants to be is out there playing. I know what he can do and there’s no point in rushing him back and then he breaks down and we lose him for four or five months.

“If we get a fully-fit Tony, I’d pay to watch him and I think there’s so much more to come from him.”

Rebels next take on local rivals Bognor Regis on Monday evening and Meeney said: “I’m looking forward to it. Myself, Gary and some of the players know some of the players there and I’ve got a lot of respect for Dabba (Darin Kilpartrick) and Jamie Howell as they’ve helped me out immensely.

“They’ve helped me out on my coaching journey and I even tap into them now.

“It will be a good test because I look at Bognor and I always want them to do well. I really appreciate and respect their identity and the way they go about their work.

“I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from it. It’s great for myself and Gary to test ourselves against Jamie and Dabba because I hold them in high regard and it will be good for our boys to go and test themselves against a good Bognor side.”

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